When working in the tequila/mezcal business one encounters a lot of kind passionate people who are never mentioned or seen in the media coverage of the industry. Some are growers, mezcaleros, designers and some are the people who makes an effort to bring tequila and mezcal to other parts of the world.
We have made a small interview with the people behind Zacamex. Zacamex.com has been started by a young couple of danish/colombian origin, Alexander and Carolina.
Q: Who are you?
Alexander Andersen: Dane, lives permanently in Mexico since 2012.
9 years investment banking experience from London and Mexico.
Has a master degree in Finance and Economics from London School of Economics.
Carolina Bolivar: Colombian, lives permanently in Mexico since 2013 and works as an entrepreneur.
Has a master degree in marketing and psychology from Queen Mary University, London.
Q: What is your main business?
We export Mexican products such as Tequila, Mezcal and Mexican craft beers.
Q: How old is Zacamex and what’s behind the name?
We have been running our export business since 2015. Our firm is called “Zacamex” (www.zacamex.com). We live in Zacatecas in Mexico (hence the name Zacamex), an area that produces mezcal and is close to the tequila area of Jalisco.
Q: How come you took an interest in tequila/mezcal?
We love tequila and mescal ourselves, as it is a huge part of Mexican culture. One should see how they produce tequila and mescal in Jalisco and Oaxaca in the most wonderful surroundings!
Q: What’s your preference – Tequila or Mezcal?
We find mezcal more charismatic and varied as so many different agave plants can be used for mezcal. Mezcal is excellent for cocktails as well. For people new to the “agave world”, it is probably best to start with a Tequila blanco as mezcal at first can seem very strong. Avoid the mixed tequila, which is why we specify that it has to be “100% agave”, even for cocktails! It is a myth that no one can tell a good tequila vs. a bad tequila when blended into a cocktail).
Q: You are selling tequila and mezal not only in Denmark, but also in Britain and the middle east. How do these countries differ when it comes to taste?
In emerging markets like Lebanon, the focus is still on mixed tequila (not 100% agave tequila), whereas we see more interest in mezcal and expensive tequilas in the UK and Denmark. Things are changing though and in a place like Colombia, mezcal is now slowly entering the market.
Q: There is a vast progress for tequila and mezcal on the cocktail scenes these years. What is it, do you think, that these products add to the scene?
The agave taste is completely different than Gin or Whiskey, say – and when you drink the good stuff (100% agave!), it also gives you a much more pleasant experience. When you get drunk on vodka, you forget who you are. When you drink whiskey, you feel like sitting in a deep armchair. If you drink tequila or mezcal you feel like talking and dancing! It has even been said scientifically that a good 100% agave spirit gives you less of a headache the next day!
Q; What are your opinions on organic tequila/mezcal?
In Mexico organic tequila/mescal is not a ”big thing”, however in Northern Europe and USA it seems to be growing a lot. The consumers are very conscious about the organic trend and want certified products. The demand for certified organic tequila and mezcal will likely grow in the coming years – as well as other types of certifications (like “Kosher” certification etc.).
Q: Sustainability has become somewhat o f “hot issue” within tequila and mezcal. It is pretty evident that even minor growth within the mezcal production relying on wild agave, one will put pressure on the sustainability of these rare agaves. Do you have opinions on this?
It is a problem when big tequila companies enter the mezcal world and only think in volume. This is a real issue. With regards to overall sustainability and the agave plants, we need stricter regulations in place. One could imagine a license fee and permission needed to harvest all wild agaves for instance. Another important initiative is the conversation of the Mexican Long-Nosed Bat, the primary pollinator of agave. The bat is considered an endangered species in the U.S
Q: The discussion regarding “Proposition 199” which will prohibit the use of the word agave and mezcal outside the DO districts for mezcal has been pretty intense. Do you think the proposition will pass?
The NOM 199 proposal is not very coherent and we will have to see what the final text says. In the current draft though, it is obviously going to hurt the non DO “distilled agave” producers if they have to call it “Komil” (a word no one uses) instead of agave.
Q: There is a multitude of mezcal brands on the market. Do you have any favourites?
Bruxo (no 2 and 5) and Enmascarado (especially the strong 54%) – there are some new ones coming now that we hope to present in Denmark soon!
Q: This interview and this blog is written in Denmark. How do you experience the danish “agave scene?“
Tequila and Mezcal are still a niche vs. Gin and Rum but it is growing. In the last few years many Mexican/Latin bars and restaurants have opened up, and on our recent trip to Denmark we noticed how mezcal often is the “bartender’s choice”, which is a very positive sign.
Article in the danish life style magazin “Euroman”: http://www.euroman.dk/gastro/kendt-kobenhavnsk-natklub-og-restaurant-lancerer-hypet-spiritus-med-oploftende-brandert
Our favourite mezcal, Mezcal Bruxo:
Bruxo Mezcal is made in a numbered series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
About Bruxo: It is a top quality mezcal, one of the finest in Mexico, and 100% artisanal, i.e. made the traditional handcrafted way using conical pit type oven, copper stills, natural fermentation. Bruxo Mezcal is made in Oaxaca, a part of Mexico in the South with excellent conditions to make mezcal due to its soil.
There are 5 different Bruxo types (all 46% alcohol):
Bruxo 1: Uses the “Espadin” agave. This mezcal is elegant and soft with floral, cinnamon and cloves notes.
Bruxo 2: Called “Pechuga” and blends two agaves: Espadin and barril. It used the part of the agave that looks like the breast (“pechuga” in Spanish), hence the name. It has sweet herbal, citrus, fennel and peppermint notes. Bruxo 2 was awarded the gold medal in Berlin at the prestigious 2014 “Mixology Bar Awards”.
Bruxo 3: Called ”Barril” and uses a wild agave that takes 15-20 years to grow. It is richer and more complex with more spice. There are hints of nutmeg, buttermilk and flinty mineral in the taste.
Bruxo 4: Called “Ensamble” and is a blend of 3 agaves: The Espadin adds floral and pineapple notes, the Barril gives it a flinty mineral core and the Cuishe adds delicate green herbal notes.
Bruxo 5: Called “tobala” and is the most exclusive of all the Bruxos as this agave plant is small, difficult to find, and it needs long time to grow using a complicated harvest technique.
Ratings: Gold medal in Berlin at the prestigious 2014 “Mixology Bar Awards”
Rated best mezcal in many articles like www.esquire.co.uk/food-drink/drinks/7214/5-of-the-best-mezcals-to-buy/2/